The First Perfectionist and His Impact on Your Attitude of Gratitude (Thankfulness, Part 2)- Shades of Grace | Natalie Nichols

The First Perfectionist and His Impact on Your Attitude of Gratitude (Thankfulness, Part 2)

The First Perfectionist and His Impact on Your Attitude of Gratitude

Are you bogged down trying to do everything flawlessly? Is your plate of responsibilities so loaded you feel like you’re drowning? Are you exhausted, drained, burned out?

Do you love to make lists? (Double ouch on this one! My lists are color coded—even the ink I use on my sticky notes!) Do you have so many things to do you can’t find time for a restroom break, let alone a pause to express thanks to God?

For us type A people, perfectionism—and the first perfectionist—is at the core of our ingratitude.

Perfectionism and Ingratitude at The Fall

Thankfulness was noticeably absent at the fall. Adam and Eve weren’t content with all that God had given them. They believed Satan’s lies and lusted after the single item God had forbidden—the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They were dissatisfied with the blessings God had given them. The indescribable splendor in which they lived wasn’t enough. They wanted more.

In the last post I wrote about my perfectionism and how it causes me to have tunnel vision for what’s wrong with a scenario—even when what’s wrong is microscopic compared to all that’s good and wonderful. I don’t just see the flaw … the flaw is all that I see.

The First Perfectionist

When Lucifer said, “I will be like the Most High,” he didn’t just commit the first recorded offense against God. He became the first perfectionist.

In Martha to the Max, Debi Stack writes:

I didn’t think perfectionism was that bad, but then I guess I never thought about from whence it came.

Still if we agree that a perfectionist is someone who wants perfection, then Lucifer qualifies as the first one. Perfection, with all its power and glory is precisely what he craved most. He saw it firsthand, too. Authentic, immaculate, glorious, pure perfection—and every bit of it was God’s alone….

Lucifer observed perfection long enough to know this: It couldn’t be stolen. It couldn’t be created. But it could be faked.

Counterfeits only “work” when they look like the real thing….The trouble is, most of what we crave—believing it to be perfect—is imperfect…..All those things we’re maxed out for—the perfect job, perfect mate, perfect children, perfect appearance, perfect house—are inherently and terminally imperfect.

Part of the reason we hound this illusion is because, quite simply, it looks so good! Dr. David Stoop, a psychologist, put it this way: “The lie [of perfection] is based on the fact that when people are faced with the choice between what is possible and what is desirable, they usually choose what is desirable, whether it is possible or not.” [1]

Doubt and Desire

Lucifer began his deception through Eve’s thoughts. He began by instilling doubt about God’s word:

“Did God really say you shouldn’t eat from every tree in the garden?” (Gen. 3:1).

Next he created an illusion of wonderful things that would happen if she ate of the forbidden tree.

“You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (v. 4-5).

He painted an illusion of perfection … and enticed Eve to desire it.

“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths” (v. 6-7, emphasis added).

They bought the deception, ate of the tree … and their eyes were opened. They saw the illusion for what it was—a lie.

Perfection: A Deception

Perfectionism enslaves us and puts us in bondage to a lie. When we view anything through the perfectionism lens, it’s a dead give away that we’ve been deceived. That’s right—deceived. Perfection is an illusion. A counterfeit. A lie. Deception.

There are more verses in the New Testament warning us against deception than against temptation. Why is this? It’s because much of our behavior stems from our thoughts. Lucifer didn’t command Eve to sin. She had to be deceived. She was deceived through doubt (unbelief)—God didn’t really say; He’s a liar—and then desire.

The process of deception is:

  1. Doubt / unbelief regarding God’s word.
  2. Desire.

Desiring perfection begins first with a lie that goes something like this:

The temporal world is all that matters. Sure the world is fallen, creation groans for redemption, and your body is wasting away, but fix your eyes on what is seen. For what is seen is real and lasting. The rest of the world is fallen and will never be perfect until eternity … but your corner of the world—your present moment, your family, your job, your home, your car, your future, your circumstances—should all be perfect. You can reasonably expect this.

In other words:

  • Did God really say what is seen is temporary and what is unseen is eternal?
  • Did He really say I should fix my eyes on what is unseen?
  • Did He really say I carry around in my body the death of Jesus?
  • Did He really say I am to set my mind on things above, not on earthly things?
  • Did He really say I’ve died and my life is hidden with Christ in God?
  • Did He really say that Christ is my real life?
  • Did He really say …?

It’s a ludicrous lie. A lie that seems silly and absurd when we read it like this … but some of us believe it hook, line, and sinker. Why? Satan doesn’t come at us this directly. The lie comes at us couched in almost undetectable means such as:

  • Seemingly harmless goals (e.g. Success on the job)
  • Good motivations (Wanting your family to have nice things / wanting your children to succeed)
  • Legitimate pursuits (Making money and providing for your family, or serving people and ministering to them)
  • Honorable justifications (We should do all things with excellence.)

Once we buy the lie and doubt God’s word, in comes desire. Oh, but it’s so desirable, the perfection we envision.

Tunnel Vision and Ungratefulness

Once we desire whatever it is we can’t have—the element keeping our lives from perfection—we become obsessed with it. The missing piece becomes our focus, our lust, our idol.

Be grateful for what we do have? What? I have something? All I can see is the missing puzzle piece keeping my scene from perfection.

If we perfectionists truly want to no longer be enslaved by this sin that leads to perpetual ungratefulness, we have to let God get to the heart of our sin of perfectionism.

If we remain enslaved to the bondage of perfectionism, we cannot become children of God whose hearts and lives reverberate with sounds of thanksgiving and praise to our Father for his loving care and tender mercies.

Puzzle Pieces

Puzzle with a piece missingWe must choose to turn our eyes (our thoughts and aspirations) away from the one piece that’s missing from our puzzle and instead focus on all the pieces we do have.

When I first became ill, I spent lots of time sedentary—lots of time that needed filling. In the two years before my mental torture began, I remained able to enjoy activities as long as I could lie down. I had gadgets that held books up above my face as I lay in bed. I watched birds from an outdoor bed. And I had a special puzzle board that let me put jigsaw puzzles together while lying in bed. Putting puzzles together was such a big part of my life that my mom mounted and framed one, a Christmas scene from a folk art painting. I still have it to this day.

I’ve been so busy in ministry in the years since that I haven’t put a puzzle together in fifteen years. Yet, merely envisioning a puzzle with a missing piece sends shivers down this Martha’s spine. Like fingernails on a chalkboard!

What? A puzzle almost entirely completed, hours of work, a beautiful scene—but there’s a tiny, glaring, empty spot? As seconds pass, it quickly becomes a GIANT, shouting, overwhelming, gaping hole! Does the rest of the puzzle exist? I no longer see it.

This is life for me … and other Marthas like me. But we must choose to let God expose our doubt and deception. We must be willing to hear his conviction the moment we begin falling for the deception of perfection. (There is no such thing as a fully completed puzzle on this earth. We will never find that missing piece and get it all together. That’s for eternity.)

We must choose to focus on the rest of the puzzle. We must be deliberate in renewing our mind, submitting to the Spirit, walking in step with Him, and developing an attitude of gratitude.

“Give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

1 Thessalonians 5:18


  • Are you so busy you lack the time and focus to give thanks to God? The first perfectionist has impacted your attitude of gratitude. Click to tweet Tweet
  • Perfectionism—and the first perfectionist—are at the core of our ingratitude. Click to tweet Tweet
  • When Lucifer said, “I will be like the Most High,” he didn’t just commit the first recorded offense against God. He became the first perfectionist. Click to tweet Tweet
  • Did you know there are more verses in the New Testament warning against deception than against temptation? Find out why here: Click to tweet Tweet
  • “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” — 1 Thessalonians 5:18 Click to tweet Tweet


  • Have you been embracing your perfectionism as a good thing—being ruled by it?
  • How does knowing the origin of perfectionism change your perspective of it? How does it change your tolerance of perfectionism in yourself? How will it affect your attitude of gratitude going forward?




[1] Debi Stack, Martha to the Max (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 2000), 89-90

Note Re: Martha to the Max

This wasn’t the post I began writing today. However, as I typed and came upon the subject of the fall, I reached for my Martha to the Max book to find an excerpt (that in thirteen years, I’ve never forgotten—that’s how transformational this book is). The more I typed, the more convicted I became….and the more I changed the original content of the post.

In skimming the book, I realized I need to read it again and let the Holy Spirit do a work in me. I’ve settled back into old ways, familiar habits, intrinsic sins—all without recognizing my hideous bondage and sin for what it is.

If you’re a type A, perfectionist Martha like me, I highly recommend Martha to the Max by Debi Stack. It’s humorous and Biblical, but most of all, it offers hope. A friend bought the book for me over a decade ago and I can never repay her.


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One Response to “The First Perfectionist and His Impact on Your Attitude of Gratitude (Thankfulness, Part 2)”

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